Since I started out on mobile app development, I've been a big fan of Appcelerator. Just today they've announced an expansion into Europe, as well as adding to their management team. Appcelerator have shown themselves to be one of the shining examples of how to utilize the freemium model successfully.
I spoke the Jeff Haynie about the platform's success, and what draws developers to Appcelerator. It seems there are two big attractions for developers and companies:
- Some want to get into app development without learning Java or Objective-C. For some, it saves them learning "the other platform" (Android / iOS), others don't need to learn either
For me, using Appcelerator saved me from having to learn Objective-C. Once you get used to the platform, you can turn an application out in a weekend.
The community has been steadily growing at a rate of 50K to 60K developers per quarter, currently at 250,000 registered developers. 50% of that number is outside of the US, so it makes sense to set up operations in Europe. The EMEA HQ will be in UK, starting with sales and building up a core team for engineering too.
The freemium model could be the secret to Appcelerator's success. It costs nothing to get started wth the platform - I've deployed apps on the App Store without purchasing anything from Appcelerator. You can pay for extra features, such as additional modules, more support and debugging. The Indie developer plan (the next one up from free) costs $49 per month, while you'll need to contact Appcelerator to find out about the Enterprise plan. As you move up the ladder, more APIs are made available through Titanium.
The recently opened marketplace is another way for both developers and Appcelerator to make money. The idea is simple - provide modules for other developers to use in their apps. Appcelerator provided the initial 40 modules, and since then the store has grown to 180 modules, with all of these organic from the community.
The freemium model might not be ground-breaking - companies like 37signals have shown it can really work. What's different here is that you can work with the product for free - you don't ever need to pay if it doesn't suit you. It's a risky strategy, but it seems to be working for Appcelerator.